MN--Victims blast Duluth Catholic bankruptcy

For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 7, 2015

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those abused by Priests (314 566 9790[email protected])

Duluth’s Catholic bishop is making an immoral, selfish, and hurtful move by seeking bankruptcy protection. More kids are apt to be molested because of Bishop Paul Sirba’s irresponsible decision to put his comfort and his colleagues ahead of his flock and their families.

Duluth Catholic officials are lying when claim that their decision “will ensure that the resources of the Diocese can be shared justly with all victims.” That’s exactly what the Milwaukee archbishop claimed when he sought legal protection. Later he challenged every single one of the 500+ victims who came forward, arguing that none of them deserve compensation. And ultimately, Wisconsin victims were dragged through years of legal delay only to end up with peanuts at the end while Wisconsin Catholic officials were able to continue keeping their cover ups, and the names of almost 100 accused predator priests, covered up.

And it’s disingenuous for Bishop Sirba to claim, through a spokesman, that he has “no choice” but to file for bankruptcy protection. Cardinal Bernard Law, for example, borrowed millions from a Catholic lay organization to settle cases.

We stand by what we said last month: “We fear that Duluth’s bishop will appeal an $8 million jury verdict or use it to justify seeking bankruptcy protection. We hope he’ll do neither. Both are irresponsible. Bishops declare bankruptcy for selfish reasons, not financial ones. They want to keep their reputations, not their assets. They want to keep their cover ups covered up. Bankruptcy brings an abrupt halt to disclosures about which clerics committed and concealed child sex crimes. That’s a self-serving strategy for a prelate. It’s a hurtful strategy for parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners, the public and of course victims. It’s morally wrong.”

Three months ago, during his US visit, Pope Francis made strong promises, including that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer,” “all responsible will be held accountable," and that church officials will provide "careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”

Duluth’s bishop is now trying to reverse this progress.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected][email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747[email protected]), Frank Meuers of Plymouth MN, SNAP director Southern Minnesota (952-334-5180,[email protected]), Verne Wagner of Duluth, SNAP director Northern Minnesota (218-340-1277[email protected])

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